In our society, a woman’s relevance is determined by her marital status. It is no wonder then, that getting married becomes a competition for women in which attaining a marriage certificate is more important than choosing the right partner. Their parents only add to this pressure to get married by urging them to hurry up to avoid losing out on the “right age” or the “right match”. But do we even wonder about the consequences of such coercion? Why do Indian parents think marrying off their daughters quickly is a race in which they must rush past their friends and relatives? Why is a daughter getting married early seen as a blessing, but not one who is well educated and employed instead?
If the decision to get married is dependent not upon a woman’s will but on consolidating her reputation in society, will such a relationship ever flourish? Why do parents continue to encourage their daughters to marry as soon as possible rather than marry the right person?
From an early age, a girl is taught that getting married at the “right” time plays an important role in how society perceives her. She has to be a wife to fulfil the purpose of her existence. No matter how many degrees and money she earns, it is her marriage certificate or absence of it that gets to decide whether she was successful or not. It also defines her character- if you are stalling marriage then clearly there’s something wrong with you or you are having a love affair. If you marry as and when your parents want, then you are a good obedient girl and such girls obviously make for good obedient bahus, don’t they? Who wants a rebel in their house? Not Indian households.
Suggested Reading: No. Arranged Marriages Are Not Always About Woman’s Submission
So it is certainly not shocking that parents obsess over their daughters’ wedding. If a woman of their daughter’s age gets married before her, parents feel intimidated as society starts asking, apki beti abhi tak ghar me kyun baithi ha? And mind you, there is no reason that can justify a delay in a woman’s wedding in our society without raising fingers at the woman or her family. Eventually, parents often rush their daughters into alliances that might yield tragic consequences. This pressure to get married at the soonest doesn’t even give women time to think whether they want to get married at all or not?
Our society is so apathetic that overlooks unhappy marriages, deaths or unreasonable dowry demands- all vices of making marriage the ultimate goal for women. Do women have no right over their bodies and life choices? Are they just mediums of maintaining the reputation of family and society? Are their lives less important than sanskaars and customs?
Dear society, stop insisting that marriage and motherhood are the only milestones that a woman must chase. Marriage is a choice to spend one’s life with someone else, not an imposition. If a woman doesn’t need a partner in life, why should marriage be enforced upon her? If a woman decides to get married early, it is her choice and not a cause of worry for parents of unmarried daughters. Neither is it a tool to pressurise or shame a woman who doesn’t want to marry. Not marriage, but a woman’s independence and agency over her life gets to determine how successful she is.
Views expressed are the author’s own.